As its name implies, compensatory picks are ones that are intended to give relief to teams that lose free agents the previous year. The intention is to help out franchises that routinely develop talent but won't pay them the big-money contract they seek.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they didn't lose anyone coveted by another team last year that would warrant getting a compensatory pick when they are announced next month, but the spirit of the nature of compensatory picks seems to be counterproductive to the original intent.
The early speculation is that the Packers might get a compensatory pick as high as the end of the third round for "allowing" Greg Jennings to leave. The Packers already had Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and James Jones under contract and weren't about to re-sign Jennings to a contract that would set the bar for the other three. He left Green Bay by design, but, because the Packers didn't make a big signing of their own, they will be rewarded. Their pick for losing Jennings could come only a few picks after the pick the Vikings received for trading Percy Harvin.
What the Vikings do this offseason in terms of signing their own unrestricted free agents and signing outside free agents may well determine how many draft picks they have in 2015. If the Vikings have little interest in re-signing players like Jared Allen, Kevin Williams and Toby Gerhart, they could reap the benefit of other teams signing them to big-money contracts and them living up to the money.
It's a system that would appear to be flawed from its original intent – losing the type of young franchise player that a team simply can't afford to throw big money at – and has become a system that rewards teams for not being willing to give eight-figure deals.
The Packers made a conscious decision not to get in a bidding war for Jennings. They are going to be rewarded for it.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.